Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor
The police are reporting a 79 per cent increase in the number of arrests for firearm-related offences for the period January 1 to December 7, 2013.
Figures from the Statistics Department of the Jamaica Consta-bulary Force show 599 arrests, with evidence being made during the period, when compared to 335 arrests for the corresponding period in 2012.
The data also shows a 14 and 42 per cent increase in firearm and ammunition seizures, respectively, with just over 674 weapons and 8,135 rounds of ammunition removed from the nation's streets.
According to the Police High Command, the arrest figures reiterate the point that suspects who surrender peacefully will be arrested and placed before the courts without any harm or injury to themselves and/or others.
"With 73 per cent of murders being gun related for the period, the disarming of criminals is critical, but even more important is the preparation of case files for the courts, which the police have been able to pursue more effectively with the increase in arrests with evidence," said Glenmore Hinds, deputy commissioner of police in charge of operations.
"This is significant because it means that not only are we (the police) disarming criminals, but we are also building cases and placing persons before the court. In other words, more persons are being made to understand that there are consequences for committing a crime, and that criminals will be pursued and caught by the police," added Hinds.
In the meantime, the High Command is pointing to a recent assessment conducted by the National Intelligence Bureau, which it said revealed that for the month of November, 63 illegal firearms were seized and 31 persons detained, a number of whom were later charged and are now before the courts.
"Also, several criminals who engaged the police and were shot and injured were taken to hospital for medical attention and have survived," said the High Command.
"These facts undercut claims that once persons are found with firearms, they are killed by the police," added the High Command.
It said its assessment shows that for the period January 1 to December 9, 2013, of the 675 firearms seized, 451 or 68 per cent were seized without incident or lethal force.
"An assessment of the fatal shootings recorded since the start of the year revealed that 52 per cent of those fatally wounded were directly involved in gangs, another eight per cent were associates or affiliates of gangs, and the 40 remain unknown at this time."
In addition, the cops claimed that at least 12 per cent of those who engaged police personnel in violent confrontations and were fatally shot were wanted for murders, shootings, robberies and other serious crimes, and refused to turn themselves in despite countless appeals.
"Another 16 per cent were known area/gang leaders with records of criminal history," charged the High Command.
"Nevertheless, the constabulary remains committed to reducing its level of fatal shootings, and will continue to review its operational strategies and make adjustments where necessary.
"Our intelligence framework will continue to drive the way forward, as we embrace the merits of intelligence-led and community-based policing," said the leadership of the force, as it urged criminals not to engage the cops when they are being apprehended.